Ian Ritchie Architects

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Royal Academy of Music

The Royal Academy of Music has unveiled its new and transformed spaces – The Susie Sainsbury Theatre, The Angela Burgess Recital Hall, five new percussion studios, jazz room and audiovisual control room, and 14 refurbished practice and dressing rooms.

‘The spaces are stunningly beautiful, acoustically brilliant and inspiring. They will raise the bar and challenge the students and staff in every possible form of music to reach higher and search further.’

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal, Royal Academy of Music

Tune into the Principal and Ian Ritchie in conversation with Sean Rafferty on BBC Radio 3
25’25” to 36’44”

Hidden behind the listed façade of the Royal Academy of Music’s Edwardian premises, surrounded by Grade I and Grade II listed buildings and located within the Regent’s Park conservation area, two distinct, outstanding performance spaces have been designed by Ian Ritchie Architects and seamlessly integrated within the historic site.

Designed for both opera and musical theatre productions, The Susie Sainsbury Theatre sits at the heart of the Academy. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, the 309-seat cherry-lined Theatre has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. The lighting deconstructs the traditional chandelier into an exploding theatre-wide galaxy of light through 600 fibre-optic crystals. Within the old concrete walls, the Theatre incorporates 40% more seating than previously through the addition of a balcony, as well as a larger orchestra pit, a stage wing and a fly tower. All seats have unimpeded views of the stage, while the larger orchestra pit allows for an expanded repertoire choice, from early to modern opera and musical theatre.

Above the Theatre, and acoustically isolated from it and all other buildings, the new 100-seat Angela Burgess Recital Hall provides the Academy with a further 230m2 space for recording, public concerts and master classes. Entirely lined in pale, lime-washed oak, an oculus floods the room with daylight and provides the space with a central focus. The Recital Hall has a footprint as large as that of the main stage, providing an ideal rehearsal space.

Enhancing the Academy’s circulation routes and creating a visual and physical link between the old and new buildings is the Recital Hall’s new glazed lobby, which is primarily accessed from the main stairway dating from 1911, and by a glazed lift. The new light wells reveal the previously concealed Grade II rear façade, in which bricked-up windows have been reopened improving the ambience of many practice rooms.

These extraordinarily beautiful and acoustically amazing spaces can be accessed independently and, together with the existing David Josefowitz Recital Hall and Duke’s Hall, complete a suite of facilities for the Academy’s ambitious student body and world-class teaching staff and for public performances.

We would like to thank the client theatre management team, all the design consultants – particularly Arup Acoustics, Ulrike Brandi Licht, WSP structures, Atelier 10, and Fisher Dachs and the contractor – Geoffrey Osborne Ltd. and their key trade contractors James Johnson Joinery, PTB and Bradgate for helping to achieve such a magnificent outcome for the Academy.

Royal Academy of Music

Royal Academy of Music

Marylebone, London, UK

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